Columbia Banking System (COLB) in Tacoma, Wash., reported higher quarterly earnings buoyed by last year's purchase of West Coast Bancorp in Lake Oswego, Ore.

The $7.2 billion-asset company's fourth-quarter earnings rose 48% from a year earlier, to $20 million. Earnings per share of 38 cents were 3 cents higher than the average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Columbia's West Coast acquisition helped its net interest income rise 40% from a year earlier, to $77.2 million. The net interest margin narrowed by 12 basis points from a year earlier, to 5.03%.

Noninterest income increased 60% from the fourth quarter of 2012, to $10.6 million. The company attributed the increase to the West Coast deal, which was responsible for a $6.1 million increase in service charges and other fees. The company did not record any securities gains compared to $3.7 million in gains a year earlier.

Noninterest expense increased 68% from a year earlier, to $63.6 million, largely because of West Coast.

The company recovered $2.1 million from its loan-loss reserve. It had a $2.4 million loan-loss provision a year earlier. Net chargeoffs dipped 6% from a year earlier, to $1.5 million.

"We continue to see a declining trend in net loan chargeoffs, along with positive migration in the loan portfolio as loans move from substandard to pass or exit the bank," Andy McDonald, Columbia's chief credit officer, said in a press release. "This trend, coupled with declining loss rates within our allowance for loan and lease losses model, resulted in a release of provision during the current quarter."

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